What Can Bakuchiol Do for My Skin?
Written by: Brianna Peters
Published on: February 15, 2022
Updated on: May 15, 2023
The “no pain, no gain” theory doesn’t always hold when it comes to skin care, and the star youth-boosting ingredient bakuchiol is a case in point. Hailed as a natural retinol alternative—a way to get retinol-like results (wrinkle-smoothing, skin-firming) without the dryness and irritation that some people experience when using retinol, bakuchiol, a meroterpene extracted from the plant Psoralea corylifolia (called bakuchi in Sanskrit), has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and it really delivers.
In a 12-week clinical study in the British Journal of Dermatology comparing bakuchiol and retinol, participants treated with bakuchiol saw major improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, and firmness. What they didn’t see, notably, were the undesirable effects associated with retinol, like irritation, redness, and skin sensitivity.
THE BENEFITS OF BAKUCHIOL
Evens skin tone and texture
Smooths the look of fine lines and wrinkles
Boosts elasticity and firmness
Helps protect skin from free radicals
Helps soothe skin
Works for all skin types, including sensitive
“The clinical results we saw with bakuchiol made it a perfect ingredient for GOOPGENES face oil,” says goop’s associate director of product development, Colleen Cun. “We wanted a face oil that went beyond simply moisturizing skin to deliver long-term youth-boosting results, and we wanted it to work for every skin type.”
“In our clinical study, 100 percent of our test subjects showed significant improvement in skin texture—it was softer and smoother,” says Cun. “Ninety-seven percent showed significant improvement in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles after using the oil for four weeks.* And it works for every skin type—even those that can’t tolerate retinol.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, bakuchiol is infused into some of the most powerful (yet counterintuitively gentle) clean skin treatments out there.
FOR RESULTS WITHOUT RETINOL
Results-driven face oil
goop Beauty All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil goop, $98/$89 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
Milky serum with alfalfa extractKORA Organics Plant Stem Cell Retinol Alternative Serum goop, $75SHOP NOW
Sheer serum with rambutanThe Nue Co. Skin Filter Serum goop, $65SHOP NOW
Wild-crafted gel-cream with ceramidesAlpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer goop, $60SHOP NOW
Pillowy, nourishing night creamFurtuna Skin Fior di Luna Nightly Renewal Cream goop, $285SHOP NOW
Rich, velvety moisturizer
Ranavat Renewing Bakuchi Crème goop, $95SHOP NOW
Brightening rollerball for eyes
de Mamiel Essential Eye Fix goop, $150SHOP NOW
Cushiony, ultramoisturizing body creamHumanrace Humidifying Body Cream goop, $54SHOP NOW
Vitamin-rich softening body oil
The Organic Pharmacy Advanced Retinol-like Body Oil goop, $80SHOP NOW
INTENSIVE REPLENISHING MASKS MADE WITH BAKUCHIOL
Exfoliates and smoothsVenn Collagen Intensive Phyto-Retinol Resurfacing Mask goop, $120SHOP NOW
Plumps and moisturizesVenn Collagen Intensive Phyto-Retinol Renewal Sheet Mask goop, $47SHOP NOW
TREATMENTS THAT BLEND RETINOL AND BAKUCHIOL
If your skin isn’t sensitive to retinol, a formula that blends both retinol and bakuchiol can be an amazing option. When paired with retinol, bakuchiol can help stabilize the formula, so it remains effective for longer. The two ingredients work synergistically—bakuchiol’s soothing benefits can help mitigate irritation from retinol’s exfoliating properties.
Marie Veronique Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion goop, $135SHOP NOW
perfecting creamDr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream goop, $77SHOP NOW
face oilNaturopathica Holy Basil & Retinol Ageless Night Oil goop, $134SHOP NOW
BONUS: THE EXFOLIATING JELLY ANY SKIN TYPE CAN USE
Made with natural fruit enzymes and bitter orange peel to gently polish away impurities, this daily cleanser feels delightfully springy and soft on skin, then rinses off easily to leave skin fresh, silky-smooth, and glowing. Arctic cloudberry—it’s packed with omega-3s and omega-6s, along with vitamins C and E—nourishes skin, while sugarcane-derived squalane moisturizes and soothes and vitamin C–rich Australian kakadu plum ramps up radiance. The foamless jelly formula is gentle enough to use twice a day, even in a routine with AHA, BHA, or vitamin C treatments.
THE ULTIMATE YOUTH-BOOSTING CREAM: MINERAL SUNSCREEN
Nothing preserves youthful skin like a daily sunscreen habit. Though bakuchiol doesn’t leave skin sensitive to the sun the way retinol can, always follow any skin-care routine with mineral sunscreen, which helps soothe even the most sensitive skin (many chemical sunscreens contain known irritants), helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and doesn’t kill coral. Tip: The “active ingredients” box on the label of a mineral formula will contain only titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (or both)—if there are any other ingredients in the box, it’s got chemical sunscreen in it.
*Based on an eight-week third-party consumer-perception and clinical study of 33 women ages 35 to 65.